As I have expressed before, I enjoy a clean romance. Catherine Palmer, a Christian writer, is always a safe bet: no bad language, no sex scenes, just a fun story of people falling in love. With so many tragic things going on in the world, it is always fun to escape for a few hours.
This time I read The Affectionate Adversary. It’s a regency romance set in the early 1800s of England. Think Jane Austen. In fact the characters briefly discuss Jane Austen’s novels during the book.
Sarah Carlyle, otherwise known as the widowed Lady Delacroix, is on her lengthy voyage home from the Orient when her ship picks up the survivors of a pirate attack. Although young and very wealthy, Sarah is deeply Christian and spend the rest of the voyage nursing the wounded, particularly one very handsome Charles Locke. Of course they fall in love.
Charles proposes and she declines because he is bent on getting rich. She is trying to get rid of her wealth, something she considers a burden. She tells him she wants to get rid of her money and live in poverty like Jesus. He can’t accept that Christ meant for men to live in poverty. They part ways when they get back to England.
She is drawn back into her social whirl life of high society even though she begins to disperse her money to good causes. He tries to rebuild the tea company he and his father had dreamed of before everything was lost to the pirates. Of course they meet again and the sparks fly, each thinking the other lied to them.
The romance is fun, but not really the point of the book. Catherine Palmer used this story to examine the role of wealth and the pursuit of wealth in the lives of Christians. Sarah’s idea that she has to be like the young rich man in the Bible is opposed by everyone who knows her, mostly because they want her money. Charles cannot reconcile himself to the notion that he has to live in poverty to be a good Christian. He feels that men have been given ambition and a responsiblity to provide comfortably for their families.
Catherine Palmer uses both characters to point out that riches aren’t everything. The pursuit of wealth, just for wealth’s sake is not admirable. Sarah is right about that. But she also points out that Charles is right that a man needs to provide for his family and that not everyone has to live in poverty to get into Heaven. Wealth is a good thing when used for righteous purposes.
I will admit that I would have enjoyed The Affectionate Adversary more if it had been less of a discussion about the role of wealth in Christianity. The story is still good. Anyone with questions about money and Christianity will find it instructive.
I liked the characters enough that I was interested in finding the next books. Apparently there are at least three books that feature Miss Pickworth, a society member with a newspaper column, like Dear Abbey. Sarah’s sisters actually write and ask for her opinion on Sarah’s dilemma. Does Miss Pickworth give good advice? Why not read it and find out…